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Tweetmail No. 80: Locker Room, Predictions & Cuts

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.

Let’s get to it.

Here’s the deal about locker room questions: they’re hard to answer since I’m not always in the room. Even when we, the media, ask head coach Bill Peters a question, he can only say so much. He addresses the team, sure, but ultimately, it’s their room.

With that said, I think I can provide an acceptable answer to this question. Acquisitions made this summer, including Eddie Lack, James Wisniewski and Kris Versteeg, seem to have a common thread: personality.

Lack is a taco aficionado, so much so that he has a taco tattoo. Wisniewski is a self-described outgoing person and a talker. Versteeg might snag control of the locker room tunes. It’s an eclectic threesome that should help jazz up the room.

“I’m just kind of an outgoing person. Some might find me talking out quite a bit, but I like to get guys going and keep everyone involved,” Wisniewski said. “We have to have fun coming to the rink. If you’re not having fun coming to play one of the best sports in the [world] for a living, then there’s something wrong. I like to come in here and keep it loose. When you get out on the ice, you work hard.”

“I like to have fun, enjoy the game and enjoy coming to the rink. If that rubs off on anyone else, then that’s great. That’s what you want,” Versteeg said. “For myself, I just try to bring everything I can, not just in one specific area. I like to bring some goals, assists, good play on the ice, in the room maybe a little bit of deejaying here and there, something to pump up the boys.”

I’ve been in the room after the first few days of training camp, and it already seems like these new guys are on to something. There’s character, and there are characters.

But don’t just take it from me. This is what Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis had to say in a recent interview with Chuck Kaiton: “We feel we have a little bit of quiet locker room, and those guys are certainly not lacking when it comes to personality. Hopefully that will come across in our locker room. They’re the kind of guys that go into battle every night, and they’re not afraid to drag their teammates into it.”

Ok, I’ll play.

Goals: Jeff Skinner. I think he scores 30 this season, which would mark the third time he’s done so in his career. Watch out for Elias Lindholm, too, who might breach 25.

Assists: Justin Faulk, but Eric Staal might be hot on his trail.

Points: Eric Staal. He’s poised for a big year, I think, and you should once again find him at the top of the Canes’ scoring list.

Plus/Minus: This is going to be somewhat of a toss-up, especially if there isn’t a games-played minimum. But for the sake of making a prediction, I’ll say Jordan Staal. He’s been a plus player in six of his nine NHL seasons, and after a minus-6 last year, I think he gets back in the black this season.

I would expect the next round of cuts before the team leaves on Friday afternoon for the Atlantic Canada. With that said, it might not be a large cut because the Canes still want to take two squads to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. By next week, another round of cuts should get them down to one group, even if that group is a bit oversized.

Head coach Bill Peters has made clear that the team isn’t going to make cuts just for numbers’ sake, either.

“If guys play well and they’re scheduled to go back to junior, we’re going to keep them,” he said on Monday afternoon. “If they deserve another game or another day, they’ll get another day.”

Charlotte Checkers training camp is slated to open on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, as renovations at Bojangles’ Coliseum continue. The Checkers won’t play any exhibition games, so after 10 days’ worth of camp, they’ll hop straight into game action, which takes them on a 10-game road swing before the team makes its long-awaited return to Bojangles’ on Saturday, Nov. 7.

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Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to lambast me for my Canes Insider Panel appearance, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes (or drop an email here).



Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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